JOHANNESBURG, David Makhura, the Premier of Gauteng, South Africa's most populous and developed province, says he has appointed a special provincial cabinet committee to determine the level of sexual violence in schools and to put measures in place to strengthen the safety of pupils.

We are perturbed and angered by these horrific crimes against our children which are committed in schools and in communities in general. The sexual abuse, molestation and rape of girl children follows the same trend as the violence, rape and killing of women in general and the young in particular, the Premier said here Thursday.

The appointment of the special committee follows a high number of reported sexual abuse cases in Gauteng schools over the past two weeks, including that of 87 girls at AB Xuma Primary School in Soweto, Johannesburg. Alleged rape incidents were also reported in two other schools in the province.

The committee, which is made up of the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Education, Panyaza Lesufi, Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane and Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza will work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on gender education in schools.

Over the next 10 days, the committee will meet with school principals, school governing bodies, police station commanders, community policing forums and patrol personnel to strengthen safety measures at schools.

All 6,000 patrol officers at schools will be vetted. Life Orientation teachers will be appointed as the first contact of reporting. Also, more than 200 new vehicles will be handed over to South African Police Services (SAPS) to assist in their patrolling efforts.

Makhura noted that gender-based violence and crimes against women and children required a combination of law enforcement, breaking the silence, victim empowerment and social mobilisation and gender awareness.

Gender-based violence and crimes against women and children is a societal scourge based on patriarchy. It can only be eradicated through a comprehensive partnership between law enforcement agencies, communities and other decision-makers in society to promote gender equity and bring to book those who commit crimes against women and children, said the Premier.


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